The first thing I learned about being a mom is how terrifying it is to love someone this impossibly much. The second thing I learned is that there is no such thing as rested moms. I’m exhausted by dinnertime every night. Sometimes, I hide in the bathroom to get five minutes of peace and quiet. The only break I get is the one I make, and sometimes there simply isn’t a break.
When Chobani asked women to think about someone in your life that needs a break, I immediately thought about my best friend, Kaitlin, whose whole life has been an emergency for almost three years.
Being a mom is kind of a superpower. A viral video about the world’s toughest job reminds us how challenging being a mom is: the job is 24/7, no weekends or vacations, in fact, those and holidays are more work, sleep is optional, and it’s unpaid. In today’s culture of Pinterest perfection, we’re also pretty sure we’re failures. And that is just a “normal” mom.
Three years ago, her first son turned one. His last birthday present was a t-shirt that read, “Big Brother.” Surprise! They were unexpectedly expecting.
Then her soldier husband deployed, again. He left just as a sonogram revealed something might be wrong with the baby. She was alone for months of blood tests and scary WebMD searches, of watching people not be as excited for this baby because they didn’t know how to feel or what to say.
She spent months afraid, worried, wondering what life would be for this child she hadn’t even met yet. Then Will was born with a bonus chromosome (we think it is where he gets his super-charm).
Down Syndrome children come with unique challenges. They can have heart defects and feeding issues. They generally need physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and a plethora of medical assistance and interventions each week. She had two children under two, one with significant needs, one who just needed his parents, a husband who is away most of every year, and a family who live far, far away from wherever the Army has stationed them this month.
Her life went from normal mom busy to insane. They had two or more therapies a day: A DAY. Between getting out the door for each appointment and finding care for her oldest, it was a ridiculous period of her life. I used to just cry on the phone with her.
Then life got even harder.
Will was diagnosed with leukemia. Kaitlin and Will stayed at the hospital for 21-30 days for 6 cycles of chemotherapy, were home a week, then returned for the next round. She spent 8 months going back and forth between her home and the hospital 2 hours away, most of those months sleeping on a cot (if the room even had a bed, some didn’t) if she could sleep over the noises of all the monitors and machines and having her child woken for tests every 15 minutes all night long, yes, SERIOUSLY.
And when they weren’t waking him up, he was howling in pain, puking and pooping and not able to understand why he felt so awful or make any sense of this terrible, terrible time. (Read more at Nothing is Wasted)
But she was a champion for her superhero, for all kiddos with DS and cancer. She made cookies and lasting friendships and shared Jesus’ love with everyone she met. She called me crying a lot, but always asked about me and really listened.
And then Army relocated her family. She was home for a few days and had to move, say good-bye to friends, leave her emergency support system, find a new home, make new friends, unpack two kids and a husband and find the lid for the crock pot inexplicably in the box of toiletries, and start all over with new doctors, schools, and therapists, lost in a new community, new state.
Especially this past year, I can’t think of a day this woman has lived that didn’t make me exhausted watching her. No one needs a break like Kaitlin does. She has lived like a superhero, being a force of joy and love through some of the toughest struggles young moms can imagine.
So, I’m nominating Kaitlin for the Chobani #BreakYouMake Day. We’re hoping that the #CANCERFREE diagnosis and a new duty station will give her family the chance to Flip this year around and find some time to enjoy her boys and life.
Even amazing Superhero moms need breaks, even if we have to make them ourselves.